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David Oyelowo is glad Lawmen: Bass Reeves got the “bells and whistles”

Lawmen: Bass Reeves is cinematic television at its best, and David Oyelowo feels very lucky that his show was given the budget to succeed.

David Oyelowo in Lawmen: Bass Reeves

David Oyelowo has been pushing for Lawmen: Bass Reeves to reach the small screen for eight years, but it was worth the wait. In fact, the project has provided its star with more freedom than ever before, and a bigger budget than he ever imagined, too.

There’s no denying that Lawmen: Bass Reeves has benefited massively from its ties to Taylor Sheridan — creator of the biggest and best TV series around right now, Yellowstone. Being a part of Sheridan’s Paramount empire often leads to great things, and it’s afforded Oyelowo the experience of a lifetime.

In a big interview with MovieWeb, the star of the hit drama series revealed how unique Bass Reeves has been from a production point of view: “I never anticipated it being possible for [Bass Reeves] to be told, with this kind of budget, with this kind of scope, with this kind of scale, with this kind of support. Because to be honest, that’s not what I have experienced when it comes to these kinds of stories.”

In many ways, it’s almost surprising that this incredible story hadn’t been told before. Bass Reeves was a legendary law enforcement officer — the first Black deputy US marshal West of the Mississippi, specifically — and his cultural significance is finally being recognized by the Taylor Sheridan TV series.

It’s a very important story for Oyelowo to be a part of, and he’s clearly proud of the fact he is getting to tell it: “Traditionally, historically, films centering on Black people, especially when it comes to those who truly moved the needle historically, have not been afforded the production value and the import that they should,” he said.

“That has always been the thing to truly fight for. If I’m totally honest, Bass for us is the first time I can say that we truly got the bells and whistles. On the other projects I’ve done, you’re sort of scraping and scrimping to have that production value and integrity,” Oyelowo added.

Such is the power of television nowadays. There is now very little difference between many of the new movies you see in theaters and the impeccable stories we get to see on the small screen. In the last decade, we’ve seen shows like True Detective, Stranger Things, and Game of Thrones attracting huge names and tackling complex narratives in a serial format.

Yellowstone is the latest IP to benefit from this concept — you’d never have gotten Kevin Costner in the Yellowstone cast ten years ago — and the trailblazing Western is opening doors for so many other stories, clearly. Still, despite its quasi-connection to Yellowstone, Bass Reeves is a top-quality show in its own right (at least, that’s what our Lawmen: Bass Reeves review says, and we know what we’re talking about when it comes to cowboys).

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Speaking of cowboys, why not dive into our explainer on the entire Yellowstone timeline, or look ahead to the future with our guides on the Yellowstone 6666 release date, the Yellowstone 1944 release date, and, of course, Yellowstone season 5 part 2. For more Bass Reeves, here’s how Taylor Sheridan “poured gasoline” on the plans for the show.